StarSpot Spots an All-Star Development Team

Web · API · iPhone · Android

The Problem

StarSpot’s co-founders wanted to build a platform for people to share photos of celebrities, but did not have the time or the skills to develop the application themselves. Co-founder John Rider, who has worked with a few different development firms over his career, said, “I needed a solution quickly with a team that I knew was capable of producing a product that would let me sleep easy at night, knowing that it wasn’t going to crash.”

The Solution

Rider came to SmartLogic with wireframes and design ideas, and SmartLogic helped turn the idea of StarSpot into reality.

Throughout the process, SmartLogic served as StarSpot’s entire technical team, from back-end development to server architecture to front-end design.

StarSpot's Home Page
StarSpot's home page shows recent photos of celebrities.

The Product

StarSpot wanted to start small, so that they could prove their concept to investors. But they didn’t want to have to start over when they grew the company. SmartLogic ensured that the code for the prototype would easily scale as StarSpot grew.

SmartLogic started by building a responsive web application so that the app would work on all mobile devices without StarSpot needing to spend time or money on building native applications. Initial features were limited to the basics such as uploading celebrity photos, adding descriptions, and tagging the location of a photo on a map.

Next, SmartLogic built native iPhone and Android apps which leveraged the existing responsive website. Then, SmartLogic integrated StarSpot with Twitter’s API to automatically import photos. SmartLogic built a behind-the-scenes admin system to automatically purge duplicate photos and allow StarSpot staff to approve photos before making them live and visible to the general public. Additionally, detailed event tracking and analytics allow StarSpot to carefully measure how the application is used and make decisions about the future of the product based on data such as traffic, most popular features, and more.

Top-of-the-Line Technology

“SmartLogic keeps up to date with the latest new evolutions in code or in best practices,” Rider said. “They keep their thumb on the pulse of what’s happening in terms of platforms and code and the latest technology.” For StarSpot, this meant SmartLogic would “regularly come up with ideas as to how we could potentially optimize what we have from a technological standpoint,” Rider said. When the technology would benefit from an update, such as an improvement to the algorithm to pull images from Twitter, SmartLogic would proactively propose changes.

“One of the advantages with SmartLogic,” Rider said, is that they “work autonomously towards an objective without me having to micromanage all throughout the day.” Because Rider lives in Paris, being able to rely on a team that could work independently was key.

Screenshot from StarSpot's iPhone App
StarSpot has an easy-to-use iPhone app.

Budget Conscious for Startups

Additionally, SmartLogic considered StarSpot’s budget, which is limited, as they are a startup, into account when making technical decisions. For example, SmartLogic suggested that StarSpot use Mixpanel, a different metrics tracking tool than Rider was familiar with, which was free to use for StarSpot. Additionally, SmartLogic built the prototype of the app with Heroku, which allowed StarSpot to host the beta for free until it was ready for official launch.

The Results

StarSpot officially launched across all platforms in December of 2014, and has not yet begun to seriously market the app, Rider said. However, when StarSpot first went live, they hoped to reach 15 images a day. Now, approximately 50 a day are added to the site.

Rider would recommend SmartLogic to anyone “looking for someone reliable, with good quality work.” Additionally, as Rider has gotten to know the SmartLogic team, “It’s always been a very positive, very friendly relationship we’ve had.” His only regret? Because he currently lives in Paris, he couldn’t get together with the team over wings, one of the American foods he misses most.

Map view from StarSpot's iPhone App
Map view from StarSpot's iPhone App.